Design matters in the solar energy business: Morgan Solar

From: Canadian Intellectual Property Office

Hot, sunny summer days are ideal for generating solar energy. These days are also when heat rises and glare increases. Morgan Solar, a Toronto-based company, designed a special solar panel to generate sustainable solar energy while reducing heat and glare coming in through windows, with a bonus: they look great!

Morgan Solar’s panels, called Sun Simba, are different from conventional solar panels. Sun Simba panels act as translucent sunshades that people can apply over their windows. While generating electricity, the panels block sun glare, reduce heat and diffuse light to illuminate a room.

"They are beautiful over the windows. People love the way they look," says Nicolas Morgan, Vice President of Business Development and one of the founders at Morgan Solar. "Some people want to buy (the panel) because we make this beautiful work of art that actually functions as a solar panel."

Modern buildings tend to integrate large glass windows into their designs, and Sun Simba translucent solar panels fit well with the aesthetic vision of these buildings, Morgan explains.

Customer feedback about the eye-catching aspect of this technology inspired the company to apply to register its industrial design. The company wanted to protect its distinctive-looking solar panel optics (the cells on the panels). It has obtained three industrial design registrations since 2016. The sophisticated designs came from a team of highly skilled optical designers with strong design capabilities at Morgan Solar.

The beauty of a design can create challenges in manufacturing and commercializing. Since 2007, Morgan Solar has moved from designing products that were hard to manufacture to making high-performance products that are easier to manufacture, allowing them to more easily commercialize and grow their business.

Morgan Solar has a robust intellectual property (IP) strategy using in-house expertise and working with multiple law firms who offer advice on which IP they should protect and how to do it. In addition to industrial design rights, the company also owns patents, trademarks and maintains trade secrets within Canada and internationally.

Registering industrial designs makes sense for Morgan Solar, says Nicolas Morgan. "Anything that looks striking and pretty can add potential value to our products."

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